If you’re expecting a big refund from the Canada Revenue Agency this year, it makes sense to file your taxes early. How long will you have to wait to actually receive your refund? The answer to that depends on many factors.
Processing Time of Tax Returns
Technically, you can file your tax return any time after January 1 for the prior tax year. In practice, most tax slips are issued by employers, financial institutions, schools and other issuers in February. As such, filing earlier than the first days of February is quite rare.
While the CRA will accept an early return, they do not start processing income tax returns until the middle of February. Even if you file very early, you must wait until the return has been processed to receive your refund.
The processing time for a tax return depends on how you filed it.
- Returns filed electronically are processed faster. The CRA says these take as little as eight business days to process.
- In sharp contrast, returns filed on paper generally take up to eight weeks to process.
- Some returns may be selected for a more detailed review and take longer to be processed. How much longer depends on what the review consists of and can only be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Direct Deposit Versus Traditional Mail
The next element that has an impact on when you receive your return is the mode of deposit that you have chosen.
Refund cheques that the CRA sends through traditional mail take longer to prepare and send than those that are deposited directly into the taxpayer’s bank account.
Checking on the Status of Your Refund
If you want to know about the status of your tax refund, you can do it easily online using the CRA’s My Account tool. Once you are logged in to your account, you can see when your tax return was received, what stage of processing it is in, whether your refund has been assessed and when it will be issued. You can also update your direct deposit information if you need to.
If you prefer to check on your refund status by telephone, you can do so by calling 800-959-1956. Make sure to have your social insurance number, complete address, and your latest assessed tax return handy as you will need to confirm your identity using this information.
The CRA has given the following estimates of when it is useful to call to find out the status of your return:
- If you filed your return before mid-February, wait until mid-March to call the CRA.
- If you filed your return between mid-February and April 15, wait four weeks to call the CRA.
- If you filed your return after April 15, wait six weeks to call the CRA.
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